Oct. 6 North Complex Fire: 86 percent contained

Containment on the North Complex Fire is inching upward — as of this morning it’s 86 percent contained at 318,731 acres. To date that makes it the fifth largest fire in recorded California history. According to Cal Fire, it is also the fifth deadliest and the fifth most destructive.

Containment lines are holding around the vast perimeter of the fire; it is the Feather River Canyon and its critical infrastructure that remains the focus.

Last night, crews conducted hand ignitions in the steep terrain along the penstocks (part of the hydroelectric power system) to secure sections of the line. Heavy equipment, aircraft and crews are being utilized to keep the fire in check as it backs down to the Feather River. The fire remains on the east side of Highway 70, but dozer and contingency lines are being constructed just in case that occurs.

Today, firefighters continue to mop up and patrol, checking for any hot spots near control lines. Rugged, dry terrain and swirling wind gusts plague that area of the canyon.


Highway 70 is currently open between Jarbo Gap and Greenville Wye. The current traffic control is from the North Fork Feather River Bridge to 1 mile west of Tobin (approximately 3 miles).

Some Canyon residents remain under mandatory evacuation orders as do Bucks Lake residents. (For full list of closure information see Sheriff’s order below.)

Meteorologists are predicting a change in weather with cooler temperatures arriving Thursday and the potential for rain Friday into Saturday.

In the west zone, please see CAL FIRE Team 4 updates for more up to date information at: www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/8/18/north-complex-fire/

Video operational updates and live broadcasts for all portions of the fire can be viewed on Plumas National Forest’s Facebook page. 

The North Complex began with the Claremont, Bear and Sheep fires. The latter broke out on the Plumas National Forest, but quickly pushed into Lassen County forcing evacuations around Susanville and destroying several homes. (It was broken off from the North Complex and handled separately).

The Claremont Fire broke out Aug. 17 as the result of a lightning strike. It forced evacuations and threatened the communities of East Quincy, La Porte Road, the Highway 70 corridor, Spring Garden, Greenhorn, Cromberg and Sloat during the past weeks. Only one outbuilding has been lost during the fire.

The Bear Fire also broke out Aug. 17 following a lightning strike. Initially it was left to burn because it wasn’t immediately a threat to people or property; it was in steep, rugged terrain; and resources were scarce due to the fires burning across the state. So though it held at 50 acres for a while, it grew to over 12,000 acres and threatened the communities of Bucks Lake, Haskins Valley, Tollgate and Meadow Valley. For full evacuation lists go to:

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.